It was a grand finale for Del Rio, who’s retiring as president/CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

Like father, like son

His son Frank, an Oceania Cruises founding team member 20 years ago, recounted how humbled he felt by a headline, ‘Like father, like son,’ upon his naming to the presidency this year.

‘Oceania Cruises is the best culinary- and destination-focused cruise line in the world. We built this brand, and we earned those accolades, and I’m here to say we’re just getting started,’ Frank Jr. said.

Promise kept

And Del Rio Sr. spoke about the promise he’d made in 1998 to his son: ‘How do you promise your 20-year-old son that you’re going to start your own cruise line someday? But junior, we did.’

The sense of family that’s always used to describe Oceania Cruises was woven throughout the event, with videos of guests, crew, partners and suppliers sharing their sentiments. 

The Del Rios could be seen wiping away tears. Taking the stage, Frank Sr. noted that while others had Kleenex, he needed a towel.

He went back to the beginning, thanking — with anecdotes — the many people who believed in him, spurred him on and worked day and night to get Oceania Cruises up and running.

Founding team, financiers, partners

He credited his family and founding team members including Joe Watters, Franco Semeraro, Paolo Mele, Nathan Hickman, Jeff Drew and many others, and called Robin Lindsay ‘the ultimate master of our fleet and my No. 1 draft pick.’

He cited the late Apollo Ship Chandlers founder Rafael Ordoñez, AMA Capital Partners’ Jim Dolphin, venture capitalist Daniel Holtz, former UBS official James Stuart, Apollo Management’s Steve Martinez, NCLH Chairman Russell Galbut, past Chair Walter Revell and current and past board members. Former NCL owner Tan Sri KT Lim, on hand, was acknowledged.

Leaders at Fincantieri and Vista’s interior designers, Studio DADO, were called out by name.

Father and son Del Rio both credited numerous others, among them, Malta’s SMS Group and the Mifsud family including the late patriarch Neville Mifsud.

NCLH President/CEO Harry Sommer was among those calling founder Del Rio a ‘legend.’

New commodores Bob Binder and Jason Montague

Del Rio called wife Marcia to the stage to help present commodore of the fleet jackets to former Oceania CEOs Bob Binder and Jason Montague.

Marcia, the godmother for Oceania Cruises’ first ship, Regatta, then invited the fleet’s newest godmother, Italian-American chef, author, restaurateur and Emmy Award-winning food personality Giada De Laurentiis to take the spotlight.

De Laurentiis said the Del Rios had instantly made her feel like part of the family before pulling a lever that sent a bottle of Champagne smashing on Vista’s hull.